IT Outsourcing for Small and Midsized Businesses (SMBs)

Questions to Ask When Choosing Your IT Support Provider

Business growth means an expanding digital footprint and more IT services to keep everything running smoothly. Navigating IT issues can take up time and focus. Small businesses may consider hiring an in-house IT employee to manage increasing IT service needs and costs. But these IT employees are in high demand and command big salaries, management oversight, benefits, ongoing training and more. Outsourcing IT support services makes sense financially since it costs far less than an in-house employee. Outsourcing IT services can also improve IT performance since businesses will not have to contend with vacations, sick days, training costs or limited technical experience.

Finding an outsourced IT support provider that fits your company well can take time. There are many factors to consider when evaluating vendors. The following questions about how to choose an IT company can help you make an informed decision and select the right outsourced IT support services company:

  1. Do you have experience supporting and advising SMBs? The needs and budgets of SMBs differ drastically from those of large companies and residential customers. An IT support provider should offer economically viable solutions that can improve productivity. Vendors that deal with large corporations are used to budgets and solutions on a far larger scale than most SMBs need. A vendor that specializes in residential customers may lack familiarity with appropriate solutions. Look for a company specializing in firms with less than 300 employees.
  2. Will I have the same technician each time? Having a technician familiar with your network saves time and avoids having to explain your unique IT system or office layout at each visit. They will know your equipment and how it performs. Larger outsourced IT providers may send the next available technician who happens to be in your geographical area. Smaller firms accept new clients based on factors such as network size and location.
  3. Are the technicians familiar with my industry sector? Understanding the operational workflow of businesses like yours is essential. Significant differences exist in the network requirements of financial, legal, manufacturing or service industries regarding preferred software, security and compliance needs. If you use specialty software or hardware, find out if the IT support provider can service it.
  4. Does your staff receive training? Ask about certifications, educational requirements and ongoing training that keeps technicians current with evolving network security and data management standards. A lack of security and compliance knowledge can substantially increase your liability risk.
  5. How long has your company been supporting business clients? You will get the most value from a company that has completed hundreds of projects and managed IT for companies similar to yours. Broad experience provides expansive knowledge of workable IT solutions. Business IT specialists will have data security and compliance knowledge that residential specialists may lack.
  6. Is your company available anytime we need help or during an emergency? Look for availability during evenings, weekends and holidays, especially if your business has busy seasons or crucial periods when you cannot afford network downtime. Whether it is tax season or holiday season, your outsourced IT company must be able to provide an emergency response when needed.
  7. What is your typical response time if we have a problem? A local company that can respond the same day or the next day will help you avoid costly downtime. Contract clients should always get prioritized service responses over public requests.
  8. Do you have similar size and industry sector clients we could call for references? Ask references about the outsourced IT support company’s responsiveness and communication. Ask whether they will renew with them again.
  9. What about security issues? Make sure they are familiar with current industry data security standards and have in-house cybersecurity experts to address complicated network security issues. Businesses are liable for the data they collect and store. Outsourced IT providers who are knowledgeable about data and network security can help reduce risk for your company. An IT company lacking in this knowledge area can increase your risk. Confirm that they have security certifications.
  10. Can you manage company mobile devices and remote workers' tech issues? Will employees get help in remote offices, in the field or while traveling? Choose a company providing secure remote sessions and mobile device management. Verify remote sessions are done with local technicians and not outsourced to another company or overseas call center.
  11. Can you handle data backup and business cloud systems? The IT provider should understand data classification, data security and ways to save costs with storage or archive options. They should know how to dispose of data securely, too.
  12. Will your company train us in clear, simple language on new systems and devices? An IT support company can help you get full value from your software and hardware by demonstrating additional features and ensuring employees know how to use them.
  13. Are you insured? Verify workman's comp, liability insurance and adherence to local, state and federal licensing and insurance laws.

Outsourced IT: The Benefits of an In-House IT Manager Without the High Cost and Management Oversight

Outsourced managed IT support is more than just computer repairs. Look for a partner that understands your market sector and workflow so you will not have to explain it or deal with a learning curve. A managed IT service professional can suggest new ways to use technology to keep your business competitive. They should be a reliable source of strategic IT planning for your business.

GEEK-AID® helps SMBs realize the same technical advantages that larger companies have without the expense and management headaches of in-house IT employees. Contact us for a free consultation.